Posted by Kuku on 7:31 PM

My name is AK and I am a Sudanese student completing my undergraduate studies in the United States. Born and raised in Khartoum, Sudan, I have decided to start this blog to contribute my thoughts on a variety of topics, mainly Sudanese and African current affairs.

I have a variety of views on a variety of topics. I look forward to sharing all those views and getting your responses and opinions in the comments section.

Best,
AK

Posted by Kuku on 7:07 PM
Labels:

This blog has moved!

The new home of this blog is: www.forsudan.net
The previous location of: fromsudan.blogspot.com will also redirect you to the new home.
I hope you enjoy the new blog.

Posted by Kuku on 11:32 AM
Labels: , , ,

Recently, the Sudanese Government held a conference called The Sudan People's Initiative, under the banner of solving the Darfur conflict -- from Sudanese by Sudanese. 


The resulting document had several recommendations, most important of which was the a unilateral ceasefire agreement declared by Al-Bashir. To the untrained eye, this might have seemed to be a miraculous development in the conflict. However, it was immediately and almost unanimously dismissed by most stakeholders, including the myriad of rebel groups roaming inside and outside of Darfur. Nevertheless, there were some who saw it as an opportunity (or "A flicker of hope" as Alex de Waal put it) for some serious progress. 

Personally, I was very torn between the two camps. I wanted this so called initiative to be a true turning point. But if the past actions of the Khartoum government can tell us anything, it is that they will dishonor any agreement they sign. From the lack of implementation of the CPA to the non-implementation of the DPA and the peace agreement in the East and the infinite number of agreements signed before the CPA, this government has proven to be completely unreliable. 

The only reason this whole initiative was actually conducted and held was because of the ICC indictment against Al-Bashir. I was in Khartoum when the actual arrest warrant was submitted to the ICC. The UN went into complete crisis mode, requiring all non-essential staff to exit the country, expecting a severe and violent backlash from the government. However, that didn't happen. The government took the tactful route and tried to engage the ICC in a diplomatic manner. They pretended to, all of a sudden, genuinely care about the issues facing Darfur and the country as a whole. This reaction was a cause for cautious optimism. 

Initially, I was personally against the first indictment against a sitting head of state. I believed that it would only result in further isolating the government and retarding the peace process. But in retrospect, it seems that this indictment was the real catalyst for tangible action by Khartoum, including this People's Initiative. They wanted (and are in continual pursuit of) a deferral of the indictment. This is seemingly an impossibility as time passes. 

 The NCP has only proven that the only thing they care about is their own existence and absolutely nothing about the country they have monopolized. So I say, if it takes an arrest warrant and the further isolation of the government for more serious action, so be it. 

Posted by Kuku on 12:29 PM

Great documentery by Aljazeera's Witness program. Please watch both parts below.


Part One -



Part 2 -

Posted by Kuku on 3:30 PM

Rebels attack Khartoum. I have alluded to this in a previous post below.


They have finally attacked Khartoum. More to come... (from the rebels)...


Posted by Kuku on 12:50 AM
Labels: , ,

For the sake of objectivity, it is good to point out the good things (even as little of them as there may be) that has been done by this regime. Here is an interesting piece from Reuters that discusses the decision by the government of Khartoum State (NCP et al.) to offer free surgery to the poor. The article doesn't give much details about the plan.

KHARTOUM, April 16 (Reuters) - State hospitals in Sudan's capital Khartoum are to give free surgery to the poor, with the annual health budget of $230 million boosted by oil revenues to one of Africa's fastest growing economies.
Much of Sudan's population lives in sprawling slums around the capital without running water or electricity, having fled the regional conflicts that have beset Africa's biggest country for decades. Few can afford medical treatment.
"This is intended to try to help the poor," the governor of Khartoum state told Reuters, explaining the decision to offer free surgery to those without the money to pay for it. He said the health budget was 23 percent of the total state budget.

Posted by Kuku on 9:17 AM

Marhaba! The Palestinian refugees have arrived. Read this and this (an earlier post of mine).
Best quote in the world:

 "While the Sudanese presidential advisor Mustafa Osman Ismail told the press that Sudan was ready to receive and host two thousand Palestinian refugees in the area of Soba in Khartoum State. He said all services including water, electricity and transportation have been provided in the area. He stressed that the Palestinian refugees would be treated on equal footing as the Sudanese subjects in all service domains."
 
I am seriously insulted! I dare him to go and say that out in Soba itself, or Mayo or Jebel Awliya where tens of thousands of Sudanese "citizens" are living in conditions not fit for animals. This is utterly despicable and should be stopped. But I know that the Sudanese cabal will find someway of spinning this and making the people accept it. 

When did they even manage to connect the area with electricity and water? The people in the IDPs camps have been there for more than 20 years and the government doesn't even give a crap. Too bad they're just too black or kuffar for the government to give a crap (I know that seems too simple, but ask any of the people living in these camps, and that is what they'll tell you the reasons for their living standards are).

What's next? Free (higher) education and satellite dishes for all?

Posted by Kuku on 10:30 PM
Labels: , ,

Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning director and 'artistic consultant' for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China has withdrawn from the games.

In a statement, he accused China of not doing enough to pressure its ally Sudan to end the "continuing human suffering" in the troubled western Darfur region. "I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual," said Mr Spielberg.

In a statement, Mr Spielberg said: "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur." He said: "Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more."

Someone is going to get mad and I think it's going to be China! I've heard speculations about this for months now, and Spielberg has been under a lot of pressure from various groups (Save Darfur, et. al.) to take this move. Obviously Beijing is going to try to play this down, but they will be furious. This will be a major blow to their "Coming out to the World" party. It is important to keep in mind that the Chinese have been waiting for this event for a while now.
Obviously, Speilberg himself is replaceable, but is this a sign of something bigger to come? Will we see entire nations, like the US (where most of these anti-Beijing Olympics groups are from) withdraw or boycott the Games? I doubt it. Back in September of last year, Bush was invited personally by Chinese President Hu during the APEC summit to attend the Games (read about it here). I doubt Bush will personally boycott them , but he will definetely use the Games as a platform to pressure China further. But will we be seeing athletes wearing armbands, t-shirts, and other things that will 'show support' for the people of Darfur? I think so!
I don't even know about this pressuring China business. I understand that they are the main supplier of arms to Khartoum, but will this pressure, from seemingly unimportant groups really make any tangible difference? The fact of the matter is that pressure, such as this, only works against democratic governments, which are susceptible to criticism and public opinion. Obviously China is not a democracy and, although the times have changed, is still not susceptible to any sort of pressure (Tiananmen Square, anyone?)

I can't wait to here the smart things Khartoum will have to say about this.

Posted by Kuku on 1:39 AM

Posted by Kuku on 11:59 AM
Labels: , ,

Chadian rebels (allegedly, and most probably) supported by Khartoum have attacked and seized the country's capital Ndjamena. This is a disturbing development as it is important to note that most of the previous military-lead coups in Chad have been launched from Darfur, similar to this one.

This got me thinking. Why can't this happen in Sudan? Can't the rebels just drive across Kordofan and enter Khartoum, inciting some of the thousands of IDPs (read previous post) in and around Khartoum?

I am not very knowledgeable about the capabalities of the rebel groups in Darfur, but this is not impossible. The Khartoum cabal is watching what is happening to their counterparts in Ndjamena very closely (maybe because they are the masterminds behind it?) to see what the outcome will be. Deby is not very liked in Chad and has been attacked on several different occasions (in one case by some of his own family members) most notably the attack on April, 2006.

It is still unclear if the regime in Chad is able to repel this attack or will the rebels completely takeover the country. Time will tell.

"Allah-Yistoor" is all I can say right now.

Posted by Kuku on 3:33 PM

A great essay written on Alex de Waal's SSRC blog by Munzoul Assal, an anthropologist from Khartoum University, details the current situation with regards to Khartoum's urbanization.

Assal's analysis of the situation is spot on. The tens of thousands of IDPs in and around Khartoum have been almost literally ignored by the regime. Mostly southerners and Darfurians, these people literally live on the less than $1 / day everyone talks about. These large IDP camps, some of which I have visited during my work last summer with SUDO, were the most devastated areas during the rainy season.

Khartoum’s urbanization is pathological. It is the aggregation of people without their integration into a social and political system that enfranchises them and provides for democratic transformation.

The regime has been completely unwilling to provide the most basic amenities to the residents of these camps. Only when it comes time for elections, it starts to give lip service to their plight, and in some cases even allotting some people plots of land so they can remember which box to fill on the ballot. These people are so marginalized that they feel as though they have no future. It is only a matter of time before a serious violent outbreak to occur on a bigger scale, than that after Garang's death.

The failure of integration in Khartoum was brutally manifested in the events that followed the announcement of Garang’s death at the end of July 2005. While many analysts and local media commentators tried to link the rampage in Khartoum to angry southerners, it was found later that those who engaged in burning, killing and looting were not only southerners, but also marginalized people from different parts of the country.

The lack of reintegration on the part of the government will end up hurting it the most. It is imperative to find a way to provide for these people, and most importantly to give these people a reason to return to their homes all around the country. This will not happen until the focus of the government on modernizing Khartoum ends, while all the regions of Sudan (including some of the north) continue to lay in anguish.

Posted by Kuku on 8:47 AM

I was speaking with a close friend of mine back in Khartoum and he told me that the two day weekend will not be applied to any public schools. Obviously private schools (of which there are many), can set their own weekly holidays. So that settles the issue of Christian schools having to forgo their Friday-Sunday weekend. 



Blakerig, a foreigner living in Khartoum wrote about this here.

Posted by Kuku on 8:12 AM

Wonderful!! Our government is getting very cozy with our brethren in the Islamic Republic. I know we're trying to stand with them as they are being cornered by the international community as they are another pious Muslim nation trying to evade the dominance of the western infidels (or is it they are standing with us?)!! 

This is somewhat reminiscent of the 1991 fiasco with Saddam, when the then 2 year old regime wanted to find someone to stand by -- and they chose the side that would end up fighting the US under UN mandate. It is very bewildering sometimes to see the alliances being waged by the Sudanese government (or more correctly the NCP). One day they want to better their relationship with the US government (take a step in the right direction) and another they are paranoid their base will shift away and go to their Islamic brothers in the Arab world (Hamas et al.). 

These absolutely ridiculous alliances with states such as Iran should end, but for some reason, I have a feeling that our foreign policy is still being controlled solely by the NCP and is not jointly decided between the "unity government" "partners". I am somewhat disappointed in the SPLM as they have not taken a more important role in national foreign policy and focused only the relationship between the GoSS and other nations (namely the US). If they were to only actually propagate their role as national leaders maybe they can change things a bit. 

Chaves, Ahmadinejad and Al-Bashir

Also, read this one and a half old piece in the NY Times: "Voices of Discontent: Anti-U.S. Leaders Seek Allies." Too bad, unlike Chavez with his leftist agenda, the Sudanese government (I mean NCP) has very few governments out there they can align themselves with. 

Posted by Kuku on 4:42 PM

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir appointed Musa Hilal, Janjaweed leader and NCP mercenary as a special advisor. Read more...

Huh??? Advisor to the Ministry of Federal Government? What is the Ministry of Federal Government? Al-Bashir is seeking advice from who??? This must be another joke!

+

=

America

Well, advisory positions are almost always ceremonial (barring a few exceptions), and I doubt al-Bashir needs the advice of a tribal leader who's been implicated on several different occasions to mass-murder. This (in my opinion) is most likely just another ploy to piss off the international community (US and the like) by literally saying "F**K YOU." Excuse my language but this is the best phrase to use in this situation.

Al-Bashir and his party have been cornered and now he's moving towards symbolic gestures, instead of swearing he'll divorce his wife if international troops are sent to darfur, which just happened.

The sitcom continues...

UPDATE--
There might actually be a strategic reason for Al-Bashir's appoint of Hilal as special advisor. According to Alex De Waal, the Arab mutiny against the Khartoum regime might even be spreading to the highest ranks of the Janjaweed, Hilal himself.
It’s more than a minor detail that some of the fiercest fighting of the last few months has involved the government fighting against mutinous Arab militias. It’s harder to argue the case for an ongoing Arab genocidal intent when some of the biggest Janjaweed commanders — including Mohamed Hamdan Hemeti and Musa Hilal — are flirting with the rebels. (Emphasis added) The question of what really is going on with the Arabs is complicated and I will explore it elsewhere. But you will agree that demonizing the Arabs as genocidaires is a pretty dangerous approach, especially at this particular juncture.)

Posted by Kuku on 6:34 PM

A ten day old article from the Jerusalem Post caught my eye today, Palestinians Who Fled From Iraq Seeking Shelter in Sudan. I had to inquire.

Apparently:

Some 2,000 Palestinian refugees who fled from Iraq are seeking shelter in Sudan.

Several parties are trying to negotiate a solution for the Palestinian refugees who sit stranded on the border between Iraq and Syria and in camps near the border, a spokeswoman for the United Nation's refugee agency said.

Abeer Etefa, Middle East and North Africa spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told The Media Line that talks were ongoing between the UNHCR, the Sudanese government, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League.

All questions regarding resettlement of the refugees have been finalized, apart from the accommodation problem due to a housing shortage in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, Etefa said.

--JPOST.com

Palestinian refugees look outside their home in a Gaza camp in north of Amman -- Reuters (via TribuneIndia.com)

After another quick Google News search, I stumbled along this from the Kansas City Star:
So, which country stepped up to end this suffering? Sudan, of all places.

Al-Ahram, a state-backed Egyptian newspaper, reported this week on an announcement that Sudan has agreed to accept the Palestinians who fled sectarian violence in Iraq.

The Al-Ahram story said Khartoum will scoop up 2,500 refugees in all, emptying the miserable Tanaf and Walid camps. The government also agreed to accept some other Palestinians who had made it to Damascus.

Sudan is not exactly Sweden, and anyone following the Darfur conflict knows that the Sudanese government doesn't always act in such a model humanitarian fashion. Still, the dusty tableau of Khartoum should be a welcome sight for a community that spent so many agonizing months in a place even the United Nations referred to as "no-man's land."
--Kansascity.com

Perfect!!! Our government which cannot provide for the millions of its own citizens all over the country, is trying to do WHAT??? This absurd and ludicrous move is another attempt by the ruling regime to push their Arabization (a word I hate to use) policy. How will it justify this? I really can't wait to find out. There are literally tens of thousands of Sudanese citizens which have had to violently flee their homes in Darfur, south Sudan, the East and Kordofan areas. These camps, most of which I have personally visited, such as Mayo-Mandella, Jebel Awliya and Al-Selama are homes to people who have literally nothing but the clothes on their backs and the mud brick shacks they build to pretend they have something to their own in this world.


Young Sudanese kids from Darfur in a refugee camp in Chad I believe -- WFP

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle the situation of the Palestinian refugees. They are very unfortunate, but the government of a people has the responsibility to protect its citizens first, then look after its Arab (or African) "brethren." I cannot believe this government has the audacity to even propose such a move. This is without a doubt a move by the NCP to further align itself with the Arab countries and score some (cheap) points with Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the rest of these (failed) regimes. How will it explain this to the SPLA (its partner in this so-called Government of National Unity?) and the millions of Sudanese who are homeless as I am writing this right now? This is utterly disgusting and inexcusable. But for some weird reason, I have a feeling this move will go through (if it already hasn't) and the people of Sudan will continue to suffer.


Posted by Kuku on 10:10 AM

So now, according to this NYT article, the Sudanese Defense Minister admitted that the Government's armed forces were responsible for the attack on UNAMID forces, in direct contradiction of the UN Ambassador. 


VS.

Military: 1 -- 0 Diplomacy

This doesn't bode well for the UN Rep, his credibility nor the situation on the ground. It isn't the first time this happens. 

The Defense Minister, though not denying the claim that his forces were responsible for this attack, he " shares the blame" with the UNAMID forces, because they did not "announce their route." However, his ministry was cordial enough to provide an apology. According to SUNA "The Western Sudan Military Command has provided an apology to the representative of UNAMID in the region and ... the apology was accepted, in recognition of the dual mistake committed." I am glad everything was cleared up so quickly. (PLEASE!!!)

Posted by Kuku on 8:08 PM

I was browsing the UN's website and was checking the Webcasts posted by the Security Council. They have what is call a "Media Stakeout" where representatives and UN officials are able to speak to members of the press and media. 


Here is a short clip of Sudan's Representative being question in both Arabic and English journalists today about yesterday's attack on UNAMID forces in Darfur at the UN's HQ in New York:
















The representative of Sudan is Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed. This man is a senior Sudanese diplomat but you would not be able to tell after watching the above video. He becomes irate very quickly when he is squeezed a bit by the media, which happens often if I may add. He is very undiplomatic and seems to be excusing and denying every single claim being placed, without putting any reasonable explanation. As you can see from the above video, he dismisses the UNSC's condemnation of the attack on UNAMID Forces in Darfur (Read about it here in the NY Times), but he (correctly) is quick to point out the Security Council's lack of a statement of condemnation on a similar attack on UN forces in Lebanon. Even though the double standard is clear, he fails to put a substantive point about the situation at hand.

It is very interesting to see this man speak. He is very well versed in both Arabic and English as shown in the video. The Arab media tends to give him softball questions while the non-Arab media, usually American, gives  him a very hard time. After watching several other "media stakeouts" of other nations' representatives, it is very interesting to see how diplomacy is in action (or inaction) everyday at the United Nations. This world body is in dire need of reform. I hope to blog further about the UN at a later time. 

PS. 
If you want to see all the media stakeouts, which are usually updated daily, visit here

Posted by Kuku on 4:19 PM

I was reading Sudan Tribune this afternoon and discovered this article.

"Sudanese cabinet today has decided to adopt a two-day weekend starting from January 26.

The Council of Ministers on Sunday decided to expand the weekend holiday from the current one day (Friday) to two days (Friday and Saturday) beginning from Saturday January 26, for a period of six month for studying and assessment.

The Council of Ministers called on the Ministry of Labour to adopt the necessary arrangements to implement this decision in a manner that comply with the national and international labour laws and guarantee enhancement of the productivity."

It got me thinking. I remember several years back when this idea was widely discussed by a lot of people in Khartoum. In fact, it has been expected for a while. The actual notion of having a two day weekend seemed to be a foreign idea and many quickly dismissed it. The Egyptians, Saudis and most other Arab states had implemented the 2 day weekend. The Saudis as well as most other Gulf States added Thursday and Friday, while the Egyptian have Friday and Saturday off.

Several folks I remember discussing this topic with said that they don't want to seem to be copying the Saudis and implement a Thursday-Friday weekend. While the proponents of the Friday-Saturday, used the fact that having Saturday off would be a positive because it wouldn't disrupt the banking and financial sectors as the world's stock markets and other institutions close on Saturday as well. A (pious) friend of mine actually said that the fact that Saturday is to be added as a weekly holiday was due to the fact that many Sudanese companies had been doing business with Israel and the Jews. Made me laugh! I love how we are so paranoid about so many things, how America is out to get us and how Darfur is a Jewish conspiracy. Give me a break!!! Moving on...

This is going to be interesting in the long run. I personally believe that this is a positive move. Seeing how this is just a 'study and assessment' phase, I think we are going to very easily adopt this. Also, how will the Christian schools change their schedules? Because I know they take both Friday and Sunday off to please both Muslim and Christian students. Will they have a three day weekend? Or will this just continue with their regular schedules? Time will tell.

Posted by Kuku on 6:03 AM
Labels: ,

Driving from Omdurman to Khartoum Sudan